Is Gambling Allowed in Islam?

After an exhausting day of unending work, you decide to have a night out with your friends. And you end up in a nightclub or casino where you can enjoy your time by playing a fun and simple-looking game. In no time you find yourself engaged in a gamble which seems to be going on forever. And you end up either losing the money – no matter how much - you have gained through too much effort, or achieve some money without doing any profitable action in return.


That is only one instance of this kind of so-called fun called gambling. Though, it sometimes turns out to be much more than simple entertainment and results in losing one’s whole living in a matter of a few seconds. But does Islam allow its followers to go through such an experience? The answer is a definite No [i] & [ii], for this is a lose-lose situation for both parties, financially and psychologically, even though it may not look so. In this matter, Islam, as always plans what is best for the lives of human beings. Let’s regard this issue in depth.


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Which Kinds of Games are Forbidden (Haram) in Islam?


According to all Islamic jurists, games that include the special means of gambling such as cards, backgammon, etc. are forbidden if they are accompanied with betting. Moreover, every kind of game that is played through betting is forbidden. Nevertheless, some scholars believe that playing with the special means of gambling, even without betting, is not allowed [iii]&[1]. This is because the one who plays with particular means of gambling will automatically be accused of betting or may seem like doing it.


Why is Gambling in Islam Forbidden (Haram)?


The adverse effects of gambling on one’s life as well as the society he/she lives in are many and have been mentioned by many Islamic and/or non-Islamic scholars.


Gambling Threatens Financial Health of the Society and Social Security


According to a study done in the United States, “more than $5 billion has been lost each year to gambling addictions. In addition, $40 billion has been spent on social services and creditor losses. These studies go on to state that two out of three gambling addicts will engage in illegal acts to pay for their gambling debts. The effect is that the addiction places a severe hardship on prison systems, public assistance programs and legal systems” [3].



Lose of credit and job is only one among many financial losses that are caused by gambling on an individual but it will not be limited to him/her and requires the society to take care of him/her. Moreover, when a game turns to a real-life lose or win, the one who engages in it sees his/her opponent as a real-life enemy whom he/she needs to defeat. This, as a result, spreads the feeling of enmity, avarice, and vengeance within the society [2]. Quran also emphasizes the evilness of this action: “Indeed Satan seeks to cast enmity and hatred among you through wine and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and prayer. Will you, then, relinquish?” (5:91).  


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Gambling Undermines Psychological and Physical Well-being of the Individual 


No matter you lose or win in this game, the effect would be detrimental for you. Let’s say you are a very lucky person and win every time you gamble, what would you do with the growing sense of greed for money? Or with this incessant desire to gamble more and more to the point that you cannot think about anything except gambling? Losing also brings its own destructive results; aside from losing the money that you could spend in a much useful way for yourself or your family, you lose your own self-confidence and feel undermined.



The pressure that is inflicted upon the gambler will inevitably lead to physical problems. According to a study, “the stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include anxiety, depression and stress-related problems such as poor sleep, ulcers, bowel problems, headaches, and muscle pains”. Also, in some cases this mental pressure caused the individual to feel suicidal and want to end his/her life [5].



When your mind is occupied with gaining more money, how to beat your opponent on the next gamble or how to pay your debts, no place will remain for you to turn and remind yourself of your duty toward Allah and His mercy upon you. And when Allah is absent from your heart and mind, the result is the constant feeling of insecurity and stress, for: “…The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!”(13:28).   



The Last word


Finally, gambling is the cause of many harms to the individual as well as the society. Based on a general rule in Islam, no one is allowed to either “cause harm or return harm” [6] to him/herself or others. As it was mentioned above, gambling brings many financial as well as psychological complexities for the people involved in it and the society they live in. Therefore Islam does not allow its followers to bear such disadvantages.   



[i] (2:219), (5:90).

[ii] Imam Reza (AS) Said: “Allah forbids His followers from any kind of gambling and ordered them to refuse doing them and called them impure and evil…” [4].

[iii] It is important to note that for the participants in horse racing and archery the action of betting is allowed [2]. The reason for that was Islam’s attention to the importance of learning the martial arts for Muslims.




[2] Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib Shirazi, Greater Sins, Vol.1


[4] Fiqh al-Reza, p.284.

[5] Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, Wassail Al-Shia, vol. 18, p.32